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Obscuro! is a gen fanworks challenge for minor characters from the world of Harry Potter. It was first held in 2016, and again in 2018. Fanworks are hosted on Archive of Our Own, and information about the challenge is shared on Tumblr.
Characters are nominated to the challenge collection, and then claimed by participants. Participants can claim their own nomination, but are also welcome to claim any of the submitted characters (or groups of characters).
There’s no simple answer to this question, and ultimately, it’s all subjective. Remember that Obscuro! is a chance to create and showcase fanfiction about characters who are often overlooked or oversimplified in fandom. Use your best judgment, and act in the spirit of the challenge.
If you’re uncertain about a particular character, ask yourself:
- Does this character feature prominently in the books and/or films?
- If they are a secondary character, do they have their own narrative arc?
- Are they depicted as a multi-dimensional character? Do we know their backstory? Do they evolve and grow over the course of the series?
- Does this character appear frequently and substantially in fanfiction?
- Do other fans talk a lot about this character? Are they often featured in headcanon posts, fanvids, fancasts, meta, fanart, and other fanworks?
While the number of works in a character's AO3 tag doesn't necessarily determine their eligibility for Obscuro!, characters with over a thousand tagged works on AO3 may not be a good fit for this exchange.
There are several notable instances in which a character with many tagged works on AO3 (or other fanfiction archives) may, in fact, be a good fit for Obscuro!:
The Blaise Zabini Rule: The character in question appears frequently in fanworks, but is rarely explored in a substantial way. In many cases, these characters are written as “fandom bicycles,” and only appear in the context of a romantic and/or sexual relationship with another more central character.The Fan Favorite Fallacy: The character in question appears frequently and substantially in fanworks, but they are only briefly mentioned by name in a canon text. The number of works in such a character’s AO3 tag may give the false impression that this character is not actually a “minor” character. Many of the Next Generation characters fall into this category; all Next Generation characters are eligible for Obscuro!, but participants should ask themselves if they feel that writing fic about a particularly popular character is, in fact, in the spirit of the challenge.
There are many different definitions of "gen" or "genfic," and some of these definitions actually contradict each other. For the purposes of this challenge, gen fic is broadly defined as a fan work in which romantic and/or sexual relationships are not the focus of the story. Your story may reference romantic and/or sexual relationships - canonical or otherwise - and it may even contain romantic and/or sexual content, but your story should not be about romantic and/or sexual relationship(s) between characters.
A good rule of thumb: if you think your story could be described as shippy, it’s probably not in the spirit of the challenge.
In 2016, forty-seven character nominations were submitted for the challenge. Eleven authors completed twelve stories.
- "Bellatrix and Narcissa wait for a door to open."
- “You won’t do a single bad thing to anyone as long as you lock yourself up.”
- "Sybill drinks tea and tells the future."
- "Soft, her sister had always called her. She always says it fondly, never as an insult, but Astoria feels it all the same. She doesn’t have the layer of ice that Daphne coated herself with, she doesn’t fight with teeth and claws and cruel insults like Pansy. She’s Astoria, and she’s soft."
- "Mrs. Figg receives an owl from none other than Dumbledore asking for a favor."
- "In the business of dubious morality, there is no black and white."
- "A collection of scenes following Lavender and Parvati (and a younger host of Gryffindor girls) as they try to keep hope and faith during the Dark Lord’s ascent. In other words- how Lavender Brown makes it through her seventh year at Hogwarts."
- "Aberforth and his interaction with magic throughout his life; a character study in seven sections.
- …and there we were, running down the main street, rather in flagrante if we’re being entirely honest… by CynicInAFishbowl
- "Oxbridge. All Muggle AU. Justin is the biggest toff this side of the boat sheds at Harrow. This is his story."
- "After the war, Padma and Parvati met the monster."
- "Minerva McGonagall during the first war with Voldemort."
- "Being a collection of personal accounts concerning the events leading up to and following the German Border Crisis of January, 1968, the details of which have hitherto remained obscured from the public eye.
- Or, the story of how Amelia Bones singlehandedly saved wizarding Europe from nuclear war, Rufus Scrimgeour got his limp, Nobby Leach was forced from office and Augustus Rookwood got his dark mark."
This year, fanworks of all types were eligible for the challenge, although the final submissions included only fanfiction. Sixty character nominations were submitted, and eight authors completed eleven fanworks for the challenge.
- "Marlene finally understood why they fought and laughed and loved with such reckless abandon, Sirius and Lily and James. It wasn’t madness, or that they didn't care; they had just realised that the world was too small to contain all the things they wanted to do. They were running out of time before they had even got started."
- "The fighting is paused, the world still as it waits for the next move. The fate of the world lies in what happens in the next few hours.
- But Lee Jordan doesn't care - he has more important things to worry about right now. Like where his friends have gotten to.
- He's got to find Fred and George."
- "Here is how it happens..."
- "Dudley Dursley was raised to be as hateful and bigoted as his parents. By the time Harry left the Dursley household, he'd at least partially shed those beliefs.
- How did he get there?"
- "It's 2005. The war against Voldemort is still being fought. Muggleborn and rendered wandless, Anthony lost contact with the magical world eight years ago. Now the war wants him back, whether he likes it or not."
- "On the eve of beginning his Hogwarts education, eleven-year-old Fen is the victim of a terrifying attack that changes the course of his life and leaves him struggling to adapt to a childhood very different from the one he imagined."
- "For almost twenty years, Regulus Black drowns."
- "In one world there is Soo-hyun. Korean. Muggle. Cursed as a Maledictus to be a sideshow attraction.
- In another world there is Nagini, forever and always a serpent."
- "Millicent gets lost in the woods and a mysterious sound leads her out."
- "“Two feathers,” he says. “Your bird, he gave me two.” Ollivander nods out the window, in the vague direction of where young Tom must be standing, poked and prodded with needles and pins. “Who is his twin, I wonder?”"
- "Two years after Ariana dies, something manifests in the Dumbledore house.
- After a little while, it screams."